From Chef to Nurse, Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney Alumnus Nabin Karki shares his career journey

Nabin Karki, a Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney alumnus, spoke with us on International Nurses Day. Nabin was part of our kitchen team as Senior Chef de Partie until he left after nearly 6.5 years to pursue a nursing career. While transitioning from a career in hospitality to a career in healthcare, Nabin has shown great ambition and resilience. All this while managing busy family life as well as a global pandemic. Let’s navigate Nabin's journey by reading on.

At Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney we are all about creating Memorable Moments. What is your favourite Memorable Moment from your time working for us?

 There are so many of them that I won't be able to fit them all in here. Working in the in-room dining quarantine operations during the lockdown was one of the most memorable moments. Providing quality meals to guests stuck in their rooms, including the members of NSW Police, Defence, and Health, was a very fulfilling experience. Feedback on the lids of the trays was priceless. I was literally overcome with emotion when reading the messages. It would have been hard to be in an enclosed space for fourteen days.

And of course! How could I forget the day when I was rewarded for my passion, hard work, and dedication to the organization with a double promotion? I am grateful to Chef Oswin and the management for their support and recognition.

What made you decide to switch from hospitality to nursing? When did you realise this?

 I have always been motivated by my family and my wife, as well as by my love for helping others. Whilst I very much enjoyed my hospitality career and the time in the kitchen, I always have been interested in healthcare, particularly the area of mental health. In recent years, I have heard of many Australians suffering from anxiety, depression, and even committing suicide. Similarly, I have experienced a few events in my personal life that have challenged my mental health at one point. So, I knew I wanted to do something about it. This led me to Nursing. My sister who currently works as a mental health nurse and an acting nurse unit manager for a large healthcare organisation motivated me accordingly. After all, I had received my Australian citizenship by then. I wonder what the best way would be to give back to the community. 

How did you transition from Senior Chef de Partie to a nursing career?

I have always enjoyed learning, but it was not an easy transition. You have reminded me of a unit in my hospitality degree ‘Change Management’ that taught me that “change is difficult but necessary”.

I was the main earner of the family and had to work full-time.  And to make things worse, during my studies, I had to sell my house due to the growing need of the family, moved into a rented place, and took out a construction loan to build a new one. With so many responsibilities on my shoulders, I used to be occupied 7 days a week, mostly doing my assignments on the train and in libraries outside of work hours missing all the joyful times with my family.

There were no holidays at all. Some days I cried in the libraries missing my two little children as they would always be asleep by the time I got home. But I never missed a class and still managed to receive a 5.8 GPA with multiple HDs. Most importantly, my success was the result of all the support I received from Radisson Blu, my family, and my close friends.

 Did your hospitality career in any way assist you with your career as a nurse? Are there any overlaps?

 Yes, in many ways. I always believed in quality which attracted me to five-star hotels for so long. It taught me so many valuable skills that I was able to apply to nursing, and I am extremely proud to have had this background supported by a bachelor's degree in hospitality. I think the need for hospitality in healthcare is paramount. As we highly value our guests’ experience with our five-star hotel service, we equally care about their journey in healthcare and continually seek feedback to improve our quality of service. Especially when consumers, including their family members, are experiencing extreme emotions such as pain, suffering, and difficulties, a kind word or gesture can go a long way. It promotes trust and reliability in service. It is truly what we do they remember, not what we say. Out of many, the biggest overlap between these careers is empathy. There is no care without empathy.

When I first started at Radisson Blu I learned about the Carlson Credo, which is applicable in nursing too. I shared it with the senior executives during my presentations and they were very impressed. Let me say again: “Whatever you do, do with integrity. Wherever you go, go as a leader. Whomever you serve, serve with caring. Whenever you dream, dream with your all. And never, ever give up.” Even though Radisson Blu is now no longer owned by the Carlson family I still believe this credo is the best ever! 

What do you enjoy most about your career as a nurse?

I enjoy directly working with people, helping them, and being a part of their journey of recovery. It can be as simple as getting a depressed person from their bed and taking them to sunshine or giving hope to a suicidal consumer, keeping them safe, and preserving their valuable life. However, it can also be highly charged with emotions at times, very challenging, and confronting. But I must say it is a very rewarding experience. There is no same day and a dull moment. Every day is different and a new learning experience. No matter what we do, it is about those differences we make and touch the lives of people every day. This is what keeps me going.

Is there any advice you would give someone who wishes to study nursing?

 Yes. Please do not study forcefully, do it with a purpose. Just as a pilot needs to have a vision about his landing destination, we must have a vision too. Nursing has many branches and so much to offer in terms of learning. Even if you did not like one area, you could always try another. You will find your way eventually. But you must love to work with people. Everyone can get the job done, but not everyone can make a real difference.

Look at me, I am a single income earner in the family paying mortgage and bills and still pursuing a master’s degree in mental health nursing while my wife is still a final year student nurse. And we also raise two kids with one needing additional care. Follow your dream and the sky is the limit. It is all about your passion and discipline. Hard work always pays off for sure.

Do you like to do anything on your spare time?

To avoid heavy reliance on social media where people often solely express their frustrations over community issues, I continue to volunteer and directly liaise with government leaders to advocate for issues such as schooling, roads, and infrastructure needs. There have been some fruitful outcomes in such involvements, and some are on the way. I believe in approaching the right person, at the right time, with the right purpose. It’s called a bottom-up approach in policy making.

Thank you, Nabin, for sharing such an inspiring story with us. Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney is proud to have you among its alumni and we wish you continued success in your career.

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